Alex de Angelis
While finding a replacement for Valentino Rossi turned into a search of near epic proportions, taking nearly a month to finalize, a replacement for the unfortunate Hiroshi Aoyama was found within almost a day. The Japanese test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi was slotted into the Interwetten Honda team directly after Aoyama's crash during the Warm Up at Silverstone, and made his appearance on the RC212V at Assen. This was just to be a temporary measure, as was explained when the announcement was made, until a more permanent replacement for Aoyama can be found, who will be out for two or three months with a fractured T12 vertebra.
It appears that such a replacement may have been found. Various press sources are reporting that Alex de Angelis is to step back up to MotoGP and take Aoyama's place. The Italian would substitute for Aoyama for the next 4 to 6 races, depending on the duration of Aoyama's recovery, at which point he would return to the Scot Moto2 team.
Our trip through Scott Jones' MotoGP images comes to an end today, with a look back at the remarkable race at Indianapolis. The facilities are astonishing, the track layout is surprisingly good for what is known locally as a "Roval" (a road course inside an oval), the organization is amazing. Throughout the weekend, only two recurring complaints could be heard: the huge amount of chain link fencing used to protect the public from flying car parts when the four-wheelers race here saw photographers crowding around the few fence openings like seals at an arctic breathing hole; and there wasn't a decent cup of coffee to be had in a thousand miles or more, reducing European journalists (for this is the fuel upon which their work depends) to gibbering wrecks.
After yesterday's trip down the pit lane at Donington, today we turn our attention to the track. Scott Jones captured some of the crucial moments from July's British Grand Prix at Donington, including the protagonists from the race and the highlights from practice. The final set of photos go up on Sunday, and they are well worth the wait.
Another day, another set of beautiful photographs taken by MotoMatters.com snapper Scott Jones. That weekend saw the weather play a major role, with race day finally drying up and producing three great races, including a scintillating MotoGP contest. Relive it all again in glorious color:
On the third day of looking back at 2009, we return to the July 5th weekend, and the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca. The light is always beautiful on the Monterey Peninsula, and Scott Jones knows how to get the best out of. Enjoy some of his highlights from a weekend of racing in California.
Of the six (or seven, depending on how you count them) MotoGP riders to lose their places in the premier class after the 2009 season, Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias surely deserved it the least. Both men had a difficult early part of the season, left waiting for their Gresini Honda team to find the funds for the upgraded chassis for the team's Honda RC212Vs. Once they received the new parts both Elias and De Angelis made a big leap forward in performance, turning into regular front runners. By then, though it was too late, and the available seats in MotoGP had already filled up.
For a while, it looked like Alex de Angelis would stay in MotoGP, but the negotiations between the Scot Honda team and the government of the Republic of San Marino, the tiny city state foundered on the rock of money, the San Marino tourist board simply unable to stump up the necessary cash to run a full season of MotoGP.
That did not mean that the deal was over, however. Today, the Scot Racing team announced that De Angelis will be racing with the team in Moto2 next season. The tourist board of San Marino will finance the team, stepping into the role of title sponsor, a much more affordable prospect in Moto2 than in MotoGP.
One name keeps cropping up amidst all the speculation about still open seats in the various race series. Alex de Angelis has been linked with a range of options since the late summer, all of them revolving around sponsorship by the tourism agency of San Marino, the tiny Italian republic from whence De Angelis hails. It started with the Scot Honda MotoGP program, and when that was abandoned, went on to a second Aprilia World Superbike team, as well as several options in Moto2, including the Hayate Moto2 team.
It is not that easy, though, it seems. According to San Marino's state broadcasting corporation, De Angelis' options are quickly drying up. The Scot Honda MotoGP ride fell through when San Marino could not provide the necessary (and necessarily sizable) sponsorship to fund the program. The protracted negotiations with Honda also ended another intriguing possibility, that the Scot team had been offered a Ducati GP10, expanding the Bolognese factory's presence on the grid from 5 to 6 bikes according to Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset. Unfortunately for De Angelis, by the time the negotiations with Honda had failed, Ducati had withdrawn their offer.
A variety of sources are reporting that 2009 British superbike champion Leon Camier has or will shortly sign a deal that will see him ride alongside Max Biaggi on the factory Aprilia team in the World Superbike championship. Camier will test with the team at Misano Wednesday and Thursday and some sort of announcement may be made by the team at that time. The young Brit has been considered a front-runner for the vacant seat after riding for the team at Magny Cours and Portimao. At Portimao, Camier finshed a creditable 6th and 7th after mechanical issues sabotaged his French appearance.
San Marinan Alex de Angelis had also been considered as a leading candidiate for the ride but his reportedly high salary demands allegedly tipped the balance in Camier's favor. de Angelis is a contender for a ride on an Aprilia satellite team that will reportedly be a mash-up of the Guandalini and Sterilgarda Ducati teams but his ability to bring funding to the team is thought to be a prime factor in whether he gets that ride.
Althea Ducati has announced that Shane "Shakey" Byrne will team with Carlos Checa on the squad in the World Superbike championship in 2010. Althea ended a relationship with Honda at the end of the 2009 season that had lasted the last two years in favor of the Bologna based manufacturer. Byrne brings extensive experience with the 1098 Superbike to Althea, having won the 2008 British superbike championship and placing eighth in the 2009 WSBK season astride the Italian machine. Byrne had been previously thought to be in contention for a factory ride with Kawasaki and Aprilia, but Kawasaki opted to sign Chris Vermeulen and Tom Sykes. Aprilia is thought to be considering Leon Camier and Alex De Angelis to team with Max Biaggi.
Yet another unmissable charity event with a MotoGP connection, but this time in the dirt rather than on tarmac. Valentino Rossi is helping to organize a charity motocross event to be held on November 15th at the Crossodromo di Cavallara, in Mundavio, not far from Pesaro on Italy's Adriatic Coast. The event is due to feature a host of big names from the MotoGP world, including Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli, Marco Melandri, Mattia Pasini, Loris Capirossi, Johnny Rea, Michel Fabrizio, Raffaele de Rosa, Alex de Angelis, and even the legendary Kevin Schwantz, alongside Valentino Rossi himself.
The proceeds of the event are to go towards helping kids suffering with leukemia at the Pesaro Hospital. The program starts on Sunday morning with 2 hours of practice, followed by the racing, consisting of three legs run over 7 laps. So if you find yourself stuck on the Adriatic coast on November 15th - and there are much worse places to be stuck - then head inland to the Cavallara track and catch some of the greatest names in motorcycle racing doing something a bit silly for charity.
If you want to know more, or need instructions to the track, here's Valentino Rossi's personal invitation, including instructions on how to get to the track. Of course, you may need to learn Italian first, but it's worth the effort.
For the past couple of weeks, the MotoGP paddock has been on tenterhooks waiting for an announcement on the future of Alex de Angelis. The Italian has been working on a deal to keep the Scot Honda team in MotoGP, with backing from De Angelis' native mountain republic of San Marino. An announcement was expected this weekend at Sepang, but it failed to come, raising fears that the deal had fallen through.
That seems to be confirmed by an interview which the French motorcycling website Moto Caradisiac did with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team boss Herve Poncharal. The Frenchman was ostensibly talking about Tech 3's new Moto2 project, which they hope to present at the final Valencia round of MotoGP, and mentioned the riders in line for a ride with the team. "I have five possible candidates," Poncharal told Moto Caradisiac. "Alex de Angelis, who told me yesterday that MotoGP is gone for him, and the Scot Honda project with San Marino won't happen; [current Scot Honda 250 rider Raffaele] de Rosa, [current Pramac Ducati rider Niccolo] Canepa, [former Scot Honda rider Yuki] Takahashi and [current Matteoni 250 rider] Jules Cluzel."
With Shinya Nakano returning to the fold at Portimao after an injury plagued rookie season in World Superbike, Aprilia Racing will dig deep and field a third bike for newly-crowned British Superbike champion Leon Camier. The ride for Camier is a second audition for a seat on the team after his debut with the squad at Magny Cours showed flashes of promise but was marred by technical difficulties. Nakano, who has had difficulties both with injuries and a self-admitted problem adapting his 250 based style to superbikes, is widely believed to be on his way out of the factory squad.Alex DeAngelis had been linked to the second seat but rumors are increasing that the San Marinan will take a ride with Scot Honda in MotoGP. Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane "Shakey" Byrne is also considered a contender for the Aprilia ride.
As we wrote just yesterday, the question of the 7th Honda on the 2010 MotoGP grid is yet to be settled. That bike is currently being fielded by Scot Honda, with Gabor Talmacsi riding it, but the Hungarian has been circulating at the back now for some time. Though Talmacsi was a latecomer to the series, only making the switch from the 250cc class at Barcelona after falling out with the Balatonring 250cc team earlier in the year, Honda's patience is starting to wear thin. Talmacsi has blamed his poor performance on the lack of an official HRC technician in the garage, as Dovizioso had when he rode the bike, but suspicion has continued to mount that the leap from the 125 class (Talmacsi rode just three races on the Aprilia RSA 250 before leaving the team) to MotoGP is just too large to make in one go.
For some time now, rumors have been emerging that HRC will give the RC212V currently being fielded by Scot Honda to Team LCR instead, expanding the team's presence on the grid from one to two bikes. When asked at Estoril about who would get the 7th Honda, a spokesperson for HRC told MotoMatters.com that no decision had yet been taken, which seemed to imply that support for the Scot Honda project was slipping.
With the announcement at Estoril that Hiroshi Aoyama is to ascend to the MotoGP class aboard a Honda RC212V in a team run by Daniel Epp, the man behind the current Caffe Latte team in the 250 class, the number of Hondas on the grid for 2010 increased from six to seven. The team is to be sponsored in part by the Swiss iced coffee company Caffe Latte, but the effort is also to be heavily supported by Honda. HRC have a long tradition of keeping a Japanese rider in the MotoGP class and were keen to find a replacement for Yuki Takahashi, who was muscled out at Team Scot and replaced by Gabor Talmacsi, the Hungarian bringing a badly-needed injection of funds to the cash-strapped team. With Hiroshi Aoyama edging ever closer to becoming Japan's first World Champion since the much-lamented Daijiro Katoh in 2001, and doing so on board an aging Honda RS250RW, the Japanese rider seems not only the logical choice, but also a highly deserving one.
The Caffe Latte RC212V will be an additional Honda on the grid, but the final line-up for the marque is still not entirely finalized. Honda expect to field seven bikes, and six of them have been settled: The factory Repsol team will see Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso return - though Dovizioso's current crew chief Pete Benson is believed to have been ousted, and is looking for work elsewhere; The San Carlo Gresini team will field the two Marcos, Melandri aboard a factory and Simoncelli riding a satellite spec bike; Randy de Puniet will make a return at LCR Honda, riding the new pseudo-factory satellite spec RC212V; And Aoyama's Caffe Latte bike will make 6.
The MotoGP silly season is just about played out. With four races left in the season, the rider line up for 2010 is almost complete. As expected, once Jorge Lorenzo finally made up his mind, the remaining pieces in the puzzle fell into place, leaving just a few gaps to fill.
All of the factory seats are now full, and largely unchanged, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo back at Yamaha, Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden at Ducati, Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa (albeit reluctantly) re-signed with Repsol Honda, and Loris Capirossi joined at Suzuki by the only newcomer to the factory line up, Spanish rookie Alvaro Bautista. Though next year's seats are settled, plenty of excitement still remains over what will happen next year: Everyone but Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista is on a one year contract, which means that the Fantastic Four will all be on the market at the same time next year and looking to move, almost certainly precipitating a bidding war and making a mockery of all the cost-cutting measures already put in place.
Of the satellite teams, only the Gresini and LCR squads are completely set. Fausto Gresini got his Italian Dream Team with the two Marcos, Melandri and Simoncelli, and helping him extend the team's sponsorship contract with snack manufacturer San Carlo, while Lucio Cecchinello has re-upped with Randy de Puniet. But even among the remaining teams, the seats are largely taken. Mika Kallio is back with Pramac, and Colin Edwards returns to the Monster Tech 3 team, though reportedly taking a half million dollar pay cut for the privilege. No official word as yet from Team Scot, but as Gabor Talmacsi is the only person likely to be bringing significant funds into the team, the Hungarian must be a safe bet for that seat.